Cocaine sharks: Marine biologists believe sharks are eating cocaine dumped off Florida’s coast

FLORIDA KEYS, Fla. — The U.S. Coast Guard seizes thousands of pounds of cocaine and other drugs from the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea each year. Now, some marine biologists believe sharks could be consuming some drugs never found.


First, it was cocaine bear, now it’s cocaine sharks. It may sound like a far-fetched movie plot, but one marine biologist said it may be happening off the coast of Florida.

“Sharks are intelligent creatures. They’ve gone up and touched it with the only thing they got, their mouth, and taken a bite out of it. They would have got a hit of cocaine. So, it sounds crazy, but the probability of it occurring is actually quite high,” said marine biologist Tom Hird.

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Tom “The Blowfish” Hird teamed up with other researchers to test the theory for the Shark Week documentary, “Cocaine Sharks.”

The team created packages similar in size to cocaine bricks and filled them with concentrated fish powder, which would trigger a dopamine rush similar to a hit of cocaine. The packages were then dumped in the Florida Keys, where U.S. Border Patrol says it’s common to find illegal drugs.

Hird said the results were as expected.

“They didn’t increase any aggressive behavior. They basically were just tuned up. They were on full alert, ready to go. Looking, looking, looking,” he said.

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While more research still needs to be done, Hird hopes the experiment is a wake-up call to the public about the effects of chemicals in our oceans.

“Looking at the way pharmaceuticals are going through us and entering our water, that is something that we need to be very, you know, concerned about and start looking into it right now rather than being too worried about some, you know, hepped up sharks reaching for the lasers, dancing ‘til dawn,” he said.

Hird also hopes this leads to research into the impact of chemicals in the seafood we eat.

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